Latinos With African Ancestry Have Increased Glaucoma Risk

First Posted: Oct 21, 2015 04:23 PM EDT

Latinos with African ancestry are at a higher risk for glaucoma, according to recent findings published in the journal Ophthalmology.

Researchers found that intraocular pressure was higher among those of African ancestry. Furthermore, for those with high blood pressure, the rates were even higher.

During the study, lead study author Xiaoyi Gao, an associate professor of ophthalmology and visual sciences in the UIC College of Medicine, analyzed the genomes of 3,541 participants 40 and older from the Mexican American Glaucoma Genetic Study, which is part of the Los Angeles Latino Eye Study.

They used a technique known as admixture mapping to determine the ancestral origin of segments of the genome by comparing them to databases from specific populations, such as Native Americans or Europeans.

The study authors are hopeful that this technique will help them zero in on the specific genes responsible.

"If we know that people with more African ancestry have higher risk for high intraocular pressure -- and we know which genome segments have been passed down from African ancestors -- then we may be able to get closer to identifying individual genes that contribute to the condition," Gao said, in a news release. "We still have a long way to go, but it gets us a step closer."

Gao added that there are other factors to consider when looking at intraocular pressure, including high blood pressure, female gender, older age, type 2 diabetes and a higher body mass index. But he noted that "...genetic ancestry should also be considered a major factor when assessing risk."

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